European Commission: Appointment of judges can negatively affect the allocation of aid to Georgia
Peter Stano, representative of the European Commission commented on the parliament’s appointment of Supreme Court judges in Georgia and described it as a missed opportunity to reform the system. Stano added that this could negatively affect the allocation of the second part of Europe’s macro-financial assistance to the country.
Despite calls from the international community and non-governmental organizations to suspend the process of appointment of judges, the parliament appointed 6 Supreme Court justices for life.
This decision also violates the so-called ‘Charles Michel’s document’ signed by the political parties of Georgia as a result of mediation carried out by the head of the European Council. It says, in particular, that until the judicial reform, which should be carried out based on the opinion of the Venice Commission of June 24, 2019, parliament should refrain from appointing judges to the Supreme Court.
According to a statement from the European Commission, the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recently raised concerns in its interim report about fairness and equity in the process of nomination of Supreme Court judges.
“The appointments contradict the key provisions of the April 19 agreement, which calls for suspension of all current appointments, full implementation of all Venice Commission recommendations, and generally enhance the independence, accountability, and quality of the judiciary through a comprehensive, inclusive reform process involving all parties”, said the press secretary of the European Commission Peter Stano.
He said this vote is a missed opportunity for the Georgian government to reaffirm its commitment to genuine and comprehensive judicial reform.
“These events pose a threat to the independence of the judiciary and public confidence in it”, said a representative of the European Commission.
According to Peter Stano, the EU is open to further high-level negotiations to “consider judicial reform and further action after these events, especially in the context of the April 19 agreement and decisions on EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia”.
For years, NGOs have argued that the judiciary is run by a so-called “clan” that is subordinate to the government and makes decisions that are beneficial to the authorities.
The “clan of judges” is also mentioned in a 2021 US State Department report, which states that it suppresses critical views and impedes the independence of the judiciary.
Non-governmental organizations, as well as former Council of Justice member Nazi Dzhanezashvili, have called on the government to suspend appointments to the Supreme Court.
Citizens’ protest was also triggered by a conference of judges on May 26, which elected four members of the High Council of Justice. The conference was preceded by criticism from various NGOs, diplomats and Nazi Janezashvili who characterized the process of appointing four judges to the council as “forming the clan” and noted that this would increase the clan’s influence over the next few years. According to her, if the process is not stopped, the clan will have full authority to freely appoint judges.